Boletes with Leon Shernoff

This talk features the incredible and colorful diversity of the boletes of North America, and uses them as examples of how and our concepts of fungal taxonomy change over the years.

Back at the dawn of binomial nomenclature, Linnaeus placed all gilled mushrooms in the genus Agaricus, and all pored mushrooms in the genus Boletus. (ALL pored mushrooms – Adanson split off the polypores in 1763) But while Agaricus has long since been split into hundreds of smaller groups, most boletes remained classified in just a handful of genera.That has really broken wide open over the last several years. New genera have been recognized in ways that separate species that were once thought to be closely related; strange “variable species” have been recognized as sets of separate species in a new genus; and so on.

We’ll cover some of these and discuss how these new distinctions help us do better in our determinations of mushroom identity and edibility.

Leon Shernoff is currently entering his sixteenth year as editor of the internationally distributed magazine Mushroom, the Journal of Wild Mushrooming. In addition to Mushroom theJournal, his columns on wild mushrooms have appeared in The Wild Foods Network, BackwoodsHome Magazine, and Mycophile, the newsletter of the North American Mycological Association. A former president of the Illinois Mycological Association, Leon has given mushroom talks and identified mushrooms for forays in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Oregon and Washington. Fungi that he has collected are now part of the permanent collection of the Field Museum in Chicago and the New York Botanical Gardens.

Leon stresses the wonder of fungi and their interactions with nature, rather than just identification of species and knowledge of edibility. He is also one of the rare people who can present technical information with historical background and humor, instead of just masses of detail. From the often-overlooked to the all-too-common, Leon usually has that little extra bit of information that makes us aware of the marvel and mystery that is mushrooming.

Niles Historical & Cultural Center is about a tenth of a mile Southeast from the Golf-Mill Shopping center. The former sheriff’s office has parking behind the building. The meeting room is on the third floor and is accessible by elevator as well as a large staircase. Restrooms are available on first and third floors. A museum volunteer will open the building for us this evening. For public transport from the city, take the Blue Line to the Jefferson Park CTA Station, from there it is 20 minutes on the PACE #270 bus to Milwaukee and Elizabeth. The museum is open to the public Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:30 AM to 3:00 PM.


Niles Historical Society
8970 Milwaukee Avenue
Niles, IL 60714

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Catherine Lambrecht

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